THE Tory candidate selected to stand in the target seat of Bolton North East has shocked her party by pulling out of the race due to "personal reasons". 

Abi Kay was selected last weekend to challenge Labour's Sir David Crausby for the seat he has held for the last 20 years.

However, this afternoon she said she was standing down as a candidate.

The 29-year-old, who has provided no further reasons for her decision, said: “Due to personal reasons I am sadly standing down as the candidate for Bolton North East.

“Bolton North East needs the strong and stable leadership that only comes from Theresa May and her Conservative team.”

Miss Kay, who is a reporter for the Farmers Guardian, will be replaced by James Daly, who contested the seat at the last general election and is the leader of the Bury Conservatives.

Mr Daly, who polled 14,164 votes in 2015, said: "I am absolutely delighted to be the candidate for Bolton North East. I loved being our candidate last time and spend a lot of time in the constituency.

"I am a Bury councillor for a neighbouring ward and live 10 minutes away from the constituency. 

"I am ready and raring to go and believe that Bolton North East - and Bolton in general - is in need of a change.

"The country needs strong and stable leadership at a national level, which will come from Theresa May, and I believe I have the experience to provide that leadership locally.

"It is an honour to be selected and I look forward to getting out and speaking to residents."

The Prime Minister chose the Bolton North East constituency to launch the Tory general election campaign last month.

Cllr David Greenhalgh, Bolton Conservatives leader, was informed of Miss Kay's shock decision this afternoon along with the party's national leadership.

He said: "James worked extremely hard in 2015 and will be a very popular candidate with our members.

"These are unusual circumstances, but we are delighted to have James announced as the new candidate and will fully get behind him.

"We will do everything we can to win Bolton North East for the Conservatives."

The Liberal Democrats have put forward Warren Fox to challenge Sir David, who won in 2015 with a majority of more than 4,000.

Sir David said: "It is starting to look like I am the only one who wants the job.

"I don't mind who I am fighting in the election, our campaign goes on and we will keep plugging away for the next five weeks."

Mr Fox said: "Whilst I certainly don't agree with Abi politically - particularly her views on gun ownership, maternity pay and abuse legislation - I do hope the issue resulting in her withdrawal isn't anything serious and wish her all the best for the future."

He added that he believes Bolton North East voters want to see a change from the politics offered by Labour and the Conservatives.

UKIP announced this week that Harry Lamb will be their candidate, while Liz Spencer will stand for the Green Party.